Team performance goals to help the weak third

Teachers from Collège Sainte-Anne share their winning strategies to support their so-called “weak third” students, without lowering their expectations of others. Today, we are discovering the strategy of Marie-Hélène Simard, a secondary 5 math teacher.

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through Jean Desjardins and Isabelle Senécal, Sainte-Anne College

Teachers from Collège Sainte-Anne share their winning strategies to support their so-called “weak third” students, without lowering their expectations of others. Today, we discover the strategy of Marie-Hélène Simard, mathematics teacher in 5e secondary.


Finding Marie-Hélène Simard among her students can be difficult. This 5-year-old math teachere secondary school, a follower of active pedagogy, adopted a model from class to workshop as soon as she arrived at the College after 9 years as a teacher for Cirque du Soleil. Also, instead of serving routines and recipes to the students, she invests fully in the tasks, at their level, so that they develop their understanding of her subject.

Last year, Ms. Simard took part in one of our educational aperitifs, during which we relaunched a process of mutual aid between the students that we found at the conclusion of Allison King's 1993 article with the famous title, From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side. According to the researcher, "an improvement in results seems to occur especially when one introduces some sort of team goal while maintaining an individual assessment". Ms. Simard appropriated this method, choosing to add a bonus point to the students if each teammate's objective is reached. “The weak are responsible for the group score and the group knows that. And it is not necessarily the strong that stand out. It greatly values the weakest at that time, ”she says.


The principles of the strategy :

  • Challenge the students.
  • Students set an individual performance goal and share it with their team and the teacher.
  • Mutual aid and interdependence are becoming essential to achieve everyone's goal.
  • Students benefit from elaborate explanations from their peers.
  • Teaching students to their peers improves their own understanding.
  • A positive or negative consequence is established according to the teacher's system: for Marie-Hélène Simard, it is a bonus point. Instead, another teacher could ask students whose colleagues missed their goal to record a remediation capsule that would be useful for next year's learners, for example.


Added value for the weak third :

  • Development of prosocial attitudes (trust, commitment, etc.) between students.
  • The desire to persevere when the explanations come from their friends.
  • The opportunity for less strong students, but skilled communicators, to realize themselves.
  • Clear improvement in results: up to 10 points for Ms. Simard's experiment.


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